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Friday, 23 October 1914

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) - The Government have condoned a very large number of cases of trading with the enemy. The prize ships that arrived in Australia from Germany did not bring goods solely of German origin. A large quantity of the goods in those ships was purchased in England and transhipped to Hamburg, and then put in German bottoms, because in that way they could be brought to Australia at less cost to the consignees. Yet the Government have put prize crews on those ships, and allowed the goods to be delivered to the consignees in Australia.

Senator Findley - Are you certain of that statement?

Senator GUTHRIE - Absolutely certain. The manifests of the ships show that a lot of British goods were sent here in German bottoms; and the Commonwealth Government have put prize crews on those ships to shift them from port to port in Australia, and thus allow the delivery of the goods since the outbreak of the war.

Senator Keating - But the goods were not bought since the outbreak of the war.

Senator GUTHRIE - That is so; but the payment of freight is just as much trading as is the buying of goods. The payment of freight is not made until the delivery of goods. There is therefore a good deal in the argument raised by Senator Keating.

Senator O'Keefe - That could not have been avoided without doing a great injustice to the consignees.

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not know. They were trying to do injustice to British shipping by getting the goods out here at less cost in ships owned by foreigners, and every facility is being given for the delivery of those goods since the war has broken out. Furthermore, the ships have been allowed to proceed along the Australian coast with niggers who signed articles under the German flag for the purpose of delivering these German goods or English goods that were carried in German ships.

Senator O'Keefe - Would you have prevented the delivery of those goods?

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not know; but honorable senators now propose to do exactly the same thing; that is, the Bill refers to the delivery of goods brought to Australia in German ships.

Senator Barker - That would be contrary to the Statute.

Senator GUTHRIE - If a German ship succeeded in running the blockade from Germany to Australia to-day, we would take her as a prize ship, and would still deliver the goods to the consignees. The whole matter needs a good deal of consideration, and I am inclined to believe with Senator Keating that we can cover everything without retaining the words " has before the commencement of this Act."

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